Monday, November 17, 2014

Watching Bananas Grow

We have turned into "banana tree watchers" and we are especially interested in watching the tree that has bananas growing on it.   It has been a fascinating process and we are taking photos several times a week as things progress.  Banana trees grow by having large leaves grow from the top center of the tree.

 They first appear as a spear that grows to about three feet long and then they unroll into a huge leaf.

Thus the tree grows and the trunk expands as the plant gets taller and shoots upward.  It takes about 6 to 9 months before a tree is big enough to bear fruit.  About three weeks ago when our tree was at least 10 feet tall, we noticed something different coming from where the spears usually appear.  It looked like a large green bulge—not a spear—and it was hard inside.

We had climbed onto the roof of the house to see the banana tree’s progress since Esteban [our rat catcher] had told us what to look for and the tree is right by the house.  Within about three days the hard bulge had grown longer and its weight had pulled it down to where we could easily reach it from the ground.  We then noticed the bulge had developed into a growing purple cone about 5 to 6 inches across and a foot long.

Soon the outer purple petal on the cone rolled up and revealed a bunch of 15 to 20 baby bananas each about the size of a small finger pointing down.

Every day for two weeks now there has been another batch of baby bananas appear as the next purple petal rolls up.  The purple petals drop to the ground a couple of days after they have revealed their babies.  We have watched this fascinating process through fourteen bunches of baby bananas with fewer bananas per bunch.

There are still more to come but the last seven bunches have appeared and dried up and fallen off.  We think this is a self-pruning process.  The bunches of baby bananas that first appeared growing downward, are getting larger, turning upward, and spreading out.

They are starting to look like real bananas now.  As of right now we have 7 bunches with close to 100 bananas growing merrily on our tree.  We remember that when we arrived a year ago, we found a large stalk of bananas ripening on the tree and it took several weeks before they were ready to pick.  So we just wait, watch and take photos.

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